Doc, My Garden Mentor

By Carol Ann Wilburn

         for my grandfather

I remember the smell of earth,
the sun warming my browned body,
birds overhead, occasional visits
from ants and bees.

Today my hands knead
moist Kentucky earth, red and rich,
relying on instinct to know when
just the right texture is reached:
when soil seems to open up
and welcome a naked plant.

These hands have done that
so many times since my childhood,
first with encouragement
later on for the sheer joy of it.

And the joy of seeing my grandfather,
Doc, bent over some zucchini,
snake-like, among its vines,
like a doctor working a patient’s wound,
caressing almost the pain out of it
talking to it with his knowing touch.

“I knew it,” he’d say. “See that, it’s root worm.”
He’d stop a moment then sever the plant,
ripe with its bounty, to protect the rest,
spray around this or that
“just to be sure.” Off he’d toss

that dirt-worn beige hat
from his bald head, his forearm
would wipe the drops from his sweaty brow.
His upturned face, craggy ancient,
would grimace at the high-up sun
then turn to me and say, “Let’s eat.”

Carol Ann Wilburn has been writing poetry since childhood but only recently began compiling her first chapbook. To jumpstart her dream to be a published writer, she submitted poems to While You Wait. After a long career in theatre management, she served on the boards of the Granada Theatre and Ensemble Theatre Company, affirming her belief in the power of the arts to inspire people’s lives. Also by this poet: "First Light"